Let me help you beat anxiety when Christmas shopping.  Here are my top ten tips to controlling your anxiety, surviving the crowds, the stress and the panic.

1) Shop early in the day, early in the week, early in the month. This is the best tip I have ever been give. Always avoid the crowds at popular times such as weekends. No-one with anxiety or not, should put themselves through that.

2) Go with a list. Know what you want, for whom and which shop will have it. Do research online first. It can save a wasted trip that could make you feel frustrated and sad.

3) Work out where in the shop the gift might be and go directly there. Do not look at the confectionery, shoes, bags or sales rail. Do not shop for yourself. Treat it like a military mission. In and out!

4) Plan a route – this shop, followed by this one, etc. If you have travelled by car, it might be worth pencilling in a return to the car mid-trip to drop off your shopping so far. Even smarter is to have a packed lunch in the car so you can have a snack and a breather. Snacks will help keep your blood sugar stable.

5) Do as much online as possible – and only do that online shopping when you are calm and undisturbed.

6) Buy gift vouchers or give cash. Cash and cards are always acceptable. And no returns.

7) Plan a stop off at the quietest coffee shop you know. (This will not be Pret at lunchtime.) Have a ‘comfort break’ in the loo, too.

8) Carry water and sweets with you in your bag. Sipping the water will not only help your thirst, it will be relaxing and mindful. Sweets will give you a sugar high, but that is allowed on a mission like this.

9) Wear layers. The shops are so hot at this time of year; make sure you can pare down and cool down by easily removing your scarf, gloves and hat.

10) Remember to breathe. Use all your mindfulness techniques to help you stay calm and focused. Particularly look out for the beauty. Stores try hard to decorate this time of year. Enjoy their work.

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